Jones shooting away at NBA

James Jones did not know what to make of everything as he sat and watched team after team bypass him in the National Basketball Association draft held last week in New York City. But the former University of Miami star forward had no complaints once the Indiana Pacers selected him in the second-round with the 49th overall pick of the draft.

And the Pacers' brass was so enamored with Jones' shooting accuracy during a pre-draft combine in Chicago that Indiana improved their draft status in order to take him.

The 6-8 and 220-pounder doesn't intend to let anybody down.

"They really made it clear that they wanted me and I couldn't be happier," said Jones, who was second in scoring (16.9 ppg), and first in rebounds (6.0 rpg) and blocks (1.8) as a senior at Miami. "At first I was worried that nothing was going to happen for me. But to be here in Indiana is a great situation for me. I really feel I have a chance of improving my game and playing here for a lot of years."

Jones, who earned a reputation at UM as a deadly shooter from within 20 feet and was one of the few rebounding presences during his tenure on the team, wasted little time in impressing Pacer officials in Chicago with his ability to shoot from anywhere on the court. Jones also displayed tenacity underneath the boards that caught the eye of Indiana coach Isiah Thomas.

It's a given that Jones will make the opening night roster if he continues to shoot the ball with such accuracy.

"I see a skill in James that we dearly missed in the playoffs," said Thomas, in reference to Indiana's poor shooting percentage in the postseason last season. "He really showed great range in shooting the ball extremely well."

Despite the Pacers sudden attraction with Jones, the ex-Hurricane knows that he will have several obstacles to overcome and that his spot on Indiana's roster isn't secure. Among the obstacles facing Jones will be trying to earn playing time at small forward where the Pacers already have Jonathan Bender, Al Harrington and Ron Artest.

While Jones is confident that his shot-blocking and rebounding skills will be assets in the NBA, the Pacers are still unsure if Jones has the quickness to guard most small forwards in the league.

"I'm not perfect. I understand I have to work on my game," says Jones. "Whatever it takes to stick with this organization is what I will do."

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